83. Parking Charges + Incentives: Reduce Commuting by 23%
Solo drivers pay $2/day. Transit/carpool users receive $4/day. Solo commutes => 77% to 54%. Phased in gradually.
****************** Leadership towards Kyoto targets requires US to implement serious transportation demand reduction policies. (CARB has no scenarios that meet 2035 reduction goals without demand reduction). European gas prices are roughly $8 per gallon. Per capita annual driving is one-third less than the US. The Moving Cooler Report agrees that a phased-in $5 per gallon gas tax increase will reduce US transportation GHG by 28%. No one contests that raising the cost of driving decreases the amount of driving. Politically, neither political party will suggest even a $0.05 gas tax increase. Moving Cooler shows that expected increases in fuel economy cannot meet Kyoto objectives but must be combined with driving reduction. Proposed is a more politically palatable policy, implemented with cutting-edge technology.
This solution changes commute behavior at work sites with free parking. Single occupancy vehicle (SOV) commuters are charged each day they park at the workplace. Commuters using alternatives (transit, vanpool, carpool, bike, walk, telework) are provided financial incentives funded by the SOV parking revenue. Implementation begins with $0.25 SOV daily parking charge and $0.50 commute alternative incentives. Charges and incentives are increased gradually to a final level of approximately $2.00 SOV parking charge and $4.00 incentives. Commute behavior changes gradually, reducing SOV mode share from 77% to 54% at suburban job sites. As a result, transit and carpooling mode shares increase substantially. For an employer, project implementation cost is very low, as employees self-report their commute choices on a web-based commute calendar that is periodically imported into payroll processing. Employers do not have to add expensive parking access control.
****************** This solution nimbly tiptoes through a minefield of conflicting stakeholder objections. The concept has received supporting letters from Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), California Governor's Office of Planning & Research, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), SamTrans, Sierra Club, Association for Commuter Transportation, and TransForm.
****************** From the Findings and Declarations of the stalled bill SB518 (California Senator Lowenthal's parking bill), "Eliminating subsidies for parking has enormous potential to reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas and other vehicle emissions by reducing vehicle miles traveled. If drivers must pay the true cost of parking, it will affect their choices on whether or not to drive. In the short term, changes to parking policy can reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions more than all other strategies combined, and they are usually the most cost-effective." Free suburban office parking paid for by employers and provided freely to employees represents a perverse $7.58 per day incentive for SOV commuting: employers pay for valuable parking space land that they give away to SOV commuters - transit commuters receive no such free land.
****************** From Bay Area MTC's support letter, "There is no question that the provision of free parking is a huge incentive for people to drive to work. A 2000 survey of Bay Area commuters found that while 77 percent of commuters drove alone when free parking was available, only 39 percent drove alone when they had to pay to park. Additionally, among commuters with free parking, only 4.8 percent commuted by transit. By contrast, among commuters without free parking, 42 percent commute by transit." From the set of US employers with free workplace parking, there are two virtuous outliers: Google Mountain View at 52% SOV and Microsoft Redmond at 62% SOV. Both Google and Microsoft spend much more on commuting benefits than can be expected from marginally profitable firms. Traditional free-parked corporate commute trip reduction programs are comprised only of incentives without a driving price increase for SOV. These programs are disappointingly ineffective, often yielding only 1% commute shift.
****************** California is phasing in a modest GHG cap and trade policy with an initial CO2 price of about $12 per ton. For this market, a narrow set of carbon reductions are tradable (sequestering in trees, etc), but not including driving reduction. To reduce CO2 by the amount in this solution, a more ambitious carbon market is required, with $200/ton price and wider applicability to all petroleum emissions.
****************** The attached PDF is a 25-page “TRB IDEA” grant proposal. The proposal covers: 7 innovations. Differences with less effective techniques like "parking cashout." Genentech's web-based self-reporting success. Small expectations for self-reporting cheating. Re-developing freed parking spaces. Behavioral economics: carrot versus stick. US transportation price elasticity of demand. Two previous successful solution trials. Willingness to forego short-term optimization for long-term gain. Software specification for commute calendar/dashboard and payroll processing integration. Favorable social equity impact. Supporting letters.
Why it should be recognized:
The US commuting market has 102M individual commuters with 91% provided with free parking. This solution creates 23M new green commuters demanding new mobility services that reduce the need for individual car ownership. The growing smartphone mobility ecosystem includes: Google Maps Transit Directions, Relay Rides, SideCar, yet-to-be-launched self-driving vehicle services, NextBus, ZipCar, Avego, ZimRide, Carticipate, Piggyback, NuRide, Lyft, City Carshare, Car2Go, DriveNow, Buzzcar, iBART, iCaltrain, Pocket Muni, etc.
****************** Total addressable US market: 44B annual employee calendar enterprise transactions, $25B/year parking revenue dedicated to green alternatives, and $1.5T in new smart city in-fill real-estate development. Resultant 8% US driving reduction yields $50B/year societal benefit from reduced crashes, etc. Annual US GHG reduction is 50M tons.
****************** The solution will allow major employers to better expand on their current landholdings, as proof of traffic reduction facilitates new building permits.
****************** Major technology companies are well-positioned to progress this solution from dogfood implementation to phased regional/statewide public policy adoption to nationwide adoption, maximizing new business revenue in the process.